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Report: Mavericks throw hat in Melo sweepstakes — but only as a rental

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Now we have some confirmation on an early post on this site that came with a little bit of speculation — it is indeed the Dallas Mavericks that is the contending team that has thrown it’s hat into the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes.

However they only want him as a “rental,” according to Ken Berger of CBSSports, who broke the story. Meaning they don’t want to offer him a big contract extension, they just want him for these upcoming playoffs.

Part of Dallas’ strategy, according to sources, is to shift the Anthony discussions to what Cuban recently called the “rent-a-player” phase, which would drive down the price and encourage other teams to present offers without assurances that Anthony would stay put for five years — the two he has remaining (including the early-termination option for 2011-12) plus the extension.

Such potential suitors, including the Mavs, do not have enough of what Denver is looking for to compete with New Jersey’s best offer. But if Dallas is successful in shifting Denver’s focus to “rental” deals, the Nets would then have to decide how much they are willing to give up to acquire a franchise cornerstone for their move to Brooklyn — even if Anthony could leave them in the dust as a free agent before the team even got there.

Everything still starts and ends with the New Jersey situation. No, not The Situation. We mean the Anthony/Nets situation — the Nets have by far the best offer with Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy and his expiring contract, plus a boatload of picks. However, they Nets are only interested if Anthony will sign an extension to stay with the team for five years and be there for the 2012 opening of the franchise’s new building in Brooklyn.

So far, Anthony has been hesitant to agree to an extension (reports differ on whether he is open to an extension there, but right now his people seem to be saying no). Bottom line is Anthony does not want to be the lone star on a team playing in Newark for another season, he only wants to go if other stars come. Maybe Chauncey Billups and Al Harrington from Denver. The Nets are working on that, but it is a tall order.

Berger also reports that the Rockets are trying to get in on the fun.

What the rent-a-player push does is give the Nuggets another option. Those offers from the Mavericks and others may not be as good as the Nets’ offer, but if the Nets pull out because Anthony will not sign an extension the Nuggets have a Plan B. Those options may be better than Anthony’s preferred destination of the Knicks.

Also, the thought of being traded and not getting his three-year, $64 million extension might motivate Anthony to accept going to the Nets. If he waits to be a free agent and signs wherever under a new CBA, Anthony could be out millions or even tens of millions.

Money often talks. And that’s one thing Cuban has and knows how to use.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: